Saturday, July 30, 2016

E.g., Abandon i.e. and Other Latinisms, etc.

I feel so vindicated.

Someone named Persis Howe recently blogged at a UK government website that the style-guide for the website is being updated to recommend avoiding the use of e.g., i.e., and etc. For the last 30 years I've been editing articles at the Journal of Economic Perspectives, I've been discouraging writers from using these terms, too. Howe notes that a growing number of people are having content read to them by audio programs, which often mangle these terms. She also writes:
We promote the use of plain English on GOV.UK. We advocate simple, clear language. Terms like eg, ie and etc, while common, make reading difficult for some. Anyone who didn’t grow up speaking English may not be familiar with them. Even those with high literacy levels can be thrown if they are reading under stress or are in a hurry - like a lot of people are on the web.
Of course, now that my desire to purge plain English of Latinisms has won this small victory, my horizons are expanding. A number of economists apparently have a psychological need to write "ex ante" and "ex post," rather than using the vocabulary of commonplace words that describe sequences in either temporal or expectational terms, including "beforehand" or "expected" or "before the fact," as well as "afterwards" or "realized" or "occurred later."  And yes, these issues actually raise the blood pressure of pedants like me.